The Main Differences Between An Ax And A Hatchet

Ax VS An Hatchet

Almost certainly, you have mistakenly used a hand ax as a hatchet. There is now an answer to that question. Even though their appearances and forms are similar, there are many variations between an ax and a hatchet.

What’s the difference between an ax and a hatchet? Axes and hatchets are somewhat similar, with hatchets being one of several ax forms. Hatchets vary from other axes so that you would not use a firefighter ax to hew a log. The size and the butt are the two main differences.

Size, functionality, and purpose are all factors to consider. Let’s begin by clearing the air on the differences between an ax and a hatchet.

Differences Between An Axe And A Hatchet

You can use both of these at woodworking. A hatchet is essentially a type of ax that is primarily used for splitting small pieces of wood.

The discrepancies, on the other hand, are legitimate. We will break this discussion down into parts to make it easier to understand.

1. Anatomy

The physical resemblance is unmistakable. Axes, on the other hand, are more crucial, while hatchets are small and convenient. When descending with an ax, you must use both hands.

When it comes to a hatchet, though, you can do it with only one hand. However, please do not assume that hatchets are the only axes that you can use by themselves. If there is no other distinction, those are simply hand axes, also known as camping axes.

The Parts Of An Ax

Axes have several named pieces, despite being essentially a wedge-shaped piece of metal. The toe, heel, tip, and bevel, for example, are not part of the bit. It is also a part of the cheek.

  • Eye. The thinnest part of the ax-head is where it wraps around the shaft.
  • Wedge. To apply lateral pressure and secure the ax head, a piece of metal or wood is inserted into the top of the handle.
  • Neck. The ax-head’s bottom, where it reaches the handle.
  • Butt/Poll. The ax-head is the polar opposite of the bit.
  • Bit. The ax front section, which one pushes into the wood.
  • Edge. The blade’s sharpened cutting edge.
  • Bevel. A slanted continuation of the edge terminates at the cheeks.
  • Toe. The blade’s uppermost corner.
  • Heel. The blade’s bottom corner.
  • Beard. The part of the bit that reaches below the collarbone.
  • Cheek. The ax-head’s thin sides for cutting and thick sides for splitting.

The Parts Of An Hatchet

Hatchets are anatomically very similar to axes, so there is no need to go over them again. Hatchets may also have metal handles, which eliminates the issue of deforming eyes completely. There is one significant difference, however.

The poll and the eye have been hardened. Since wood is springy, the ax head is not as surprised when it strikes it.

Metal, on the other hand, is less elastic. The ax-head is subjected to more force as it hits the ground. The soft steel eyes used on most axes can be deformed as a result of this.

Hatchets are built with hardened steel eyes and poles since they are half hammer. When hammering nails, they will not deform.

2. Shaft Size

Hatchets are usually one-third to half the size of a usual ax. Two-thirds of proper axes are hand axes that are used for various camping purposes.

Hatchets will usually cross half of these axes. The difference in shaft height determines the chopping angle and other leverages.

3. Head Shape And Weight

The shape of a hatchet head differs from that of an ax, despite their similarities. I know I have said it a million times, but it has to be said.

The ax-head is bigger and gradually diminishes toward the back end. Hatchet has a compact body with a narrow head that has a wide cutting tip.

Axes are available in a range of sizes and weights. A hatchet differs from a regular or bushcraft ax in many ways. A hatchet is used for light chopping, while a standard one is used for heavy chopping.

The standard axes will weigh up to three times as much as hatchets – hatchets are light and easy to use.

4. Shaft Design

Hatchets usually have metal handles, which are uncommon in broad axes. The inability to withstand the intense pressure used in usual shafts is one explanation for this. Do you want the handle to become tame when you are cutting big logs?

The shafts of the hatchet are usually bent or twisted and lean forward. Hand axes and normal axes, on the other hand, have it bent at nearly a 9-degree angle with the head. The ax geometric form helps them to go down very fast when doing some serious chopping.

5. Convenience And Portability

Hatchets, as you already know, are much smaller. Their size and weight make them more compact and portable to use. With a belt holster by one hand, one can bear a hatchet. A big ax, on the other hand, cannot be said in the same way.

The ax’s long handles make it difficult to transport. As a result, transporting an ax to a campsite or a cutting location would necessitate a separate arrangement.

On the other side, you should bring a hatchet with you everywhere you go. It is almost as easy as having a camping knife on you at all times.

When To Use An Ax Or Hatchet?

You can use an ax for several kinds of tasks. However, they are usually used for woodworking. There are, however, several axes.

Woodworkers can cut a tree with felling axes. Splitting axes are used to cut large logs into firewood and forest axes for bushcraft and other purposes.

Is this to say you cannot use hatches to do other things? Not in the least. That does not imply anything at all!

Hatchets are usually used for general purposes and are capable of performing all camp tasks effectively and efficiently. They are also used for ax’s purposes on occasion. However, they do not perform well enough there.

Carving logs or cooking camping steaks are simple tasks for hatchets. You may use them as knives for everyday tasks. They can be as effective as a Kukri Machete at times.

Picking up a hatchet and striking takes very little time. You can use a hatchet as an emergency self-defense knife, too. Furthermore, if you have left the hammer at home, you can use the back end of the hatchet as a hammer.

Types Of Axes

1. Hatchet

A hatchet is a general all-purpose ax that most people have in their toolbox for light yard work. They have a chunky handle made of hickory wood and are relatively thin in comparison to other axes.

The head is heavy, with a flared shape that leads to a blade with a sharp tip.

For a good hatchet, balance is crucial, as a smooth feel can help produce more precise swings and cuts. It will make jobs go much faster and easier. One can use a hatchet for cutting and breaking logs as well as felling small trees.

2. Felling Ax

If you can use a chainsaw to cut down a large tree, a felling ax is also a viable option. The felling ax is also known as a camp ax, and it is usually used to cut down trees and branches.

This ax has two distinguishing characteristics:

  • The blade is thin, smooth, and razor-sharp.
  • The handle is around two feet long and weighs about two pounds.

A felling ax blade is designed to cut through the grain of the wood. It suggests that the hammer is swung horizontally at the tree to cut it down.

A felling ax’s long handle provides much leverage. It makes cutting wood much easier than using a hatchet, for example.

Because of its weight and scale, this is not an ax that you can usually pack in your hiking bag. This ax, on the other hand, is perfect if you have a permanent camping site.

3. Tactical Ax

The tactical ax is relatively innovative and functions as a multi-tool. Also, it is known as a tactical tomahawk. It is common among law enforcement, soldiers, and security personnel, as well as survivalists.

Chopping is the primary role of this ax. However, it can also be used as a close-range knife, a shovel, a pry bar, and a hammer.

Cooking, cutting wood for campfires, and digging holes are all things that it can help with on camping trips. These axes are usually made of steel to ensure that they are strong enough to handle several tasks.

4. Throwing Ax

The initial throwing ax was a weapon in combat used by foot soldiers in the Middle Ages. It was hurled at an enemy to inflict fatal damage.

Ax throwing has been introduced as a competitive sport in recent years, and it is gaining popularity. The axes used in this sport can be of various types and designs.

Their key feature is that they must be robust. These axes must be reliable to withstand the pressure applied by several throws.

5. Forest Ax

Forest axes are heavy-duty axes designed solely for felling trees. They are heavy-duty equipment that would be difficult to transport on camping trips. However, they are ideal for storing permanently at a cabin in the woods.

These axes are designed to cut down big and tall trees and have extra long handles. The blade of a forest ax will be sharp and flared, with a slightly curved edge.

6. Broad Ax

Its primary function is hewing, which is the method of turning round-edged lumber into flat-edged timber. It is a form of carpentry that was common before the advent of modern sawmills.

One side of this ax is flat to aid in the hewing operation. The other side has a long beveled-edged blade for chopping. It is a medium-sized hand tool that is often used by carpenters these days. It is barely used in general use.

7. Adze

An adze is a cutting instrument shaped like an ax and dates back to the Stone Age. Any instrument with a sharp cutting edge is referred to as an adze.

When doing woodwork by hand, adzes are usually used to smooth and carve the wood. The cutting edge of an adze is perpendicular to the handle, unlike an ax.

8. Fireman’s Ax

During an emergency, firefighters use a fireman’s hammer to knock down doors and windows. A pick head ax, a fire ax, or a firefighter’s ax are used to describe a fireman’s ax.

9. Crash Ax

Large aircraft with 20 seats or more usually must have crash axes or pry bars in the cockpit. A crash ax is used to chop and pry walls and cabinets to gain entry rapidly. It is also an ax you can use to enable passengers to escape an aircraft when exits are not accessible.

10. Miner Ax

Miners first used this ax in Europe during the Middle Ages. They were looking for copper and silver ore. These axes have a short handle and a long muzzle, making them perfect for close-quarters work.

Over the ages, these axes became a status symbol among miners. The head of the ax may have intricately detailed engraving.

11. Viking Ax

Viking axes serve as war arms in the Viking Age. While several Viking axes were massive, it would be a mistake to think they were brutish and bulky.

Viking axes were incredibly well-balanced. It could weigh as little as two pounds, making them easy to hold and use in combat.

These axes came in a variety of sizes. However, the majority were double-handed and had handled as long as 55 inches.

12. Tomahawk

Native Americans were the first to use tomahawk axes, which originated in North America. These axes look like hatchets but have an entirely straight handle and are significantly lighter.

The straight handle makes it easier to throw them at an enemy in battle. The sharp blade makes them useful for various tasks such as digging, prying, slicing, and splitting.

They are easier to bring around because they are lighter and smaller than hatchets. They are multipurpose and can be used for a variety of bushcraft tasks. Tomahawks are also common in knife-throwing competitions, with their category.


To conclude, hatchets are a smaller version of axes that you can use with one side. It is multi-functional because it can do anything from slicing to carving to splitting to hammering. However, if you plan on traversing many terrains, an ax would be your best mate.